Red tape: the enemy of innovation. In actual fact, red tape is not only the enemy of innovation; it is potentially the enemy of every business. It’s hardly surprising that business leaders continually call on the government to make further cuts in red tape when a report by the Centre for Economic and Business Research earlier this year estimated that red tape was costing Britain’s small businesses some £4.7billion per year.
But this is one side of the story. What many businesses fail to recognise is the vast wastage in time and effort thanks to internal procedures and business structure. Why does a simple expenses claim have to wind up through team and department leaders and then on to HR before it is finally processed by accounts? How many times has the chance to enhance customer satisfaction levels through delivering an instant solution been missed simply because actions are circumscribed by hierarchical control? Yet how easy is it to call a pointless meeting with dozens of people, with the cost to the business going unnoticed yet try getting a simple office expense or innovation initiative signed off in a timely manor.
Perhaps those calling for a reduction in governmental red tape would do well to look at their own business structure and processes first. Certainly, those looking to move towards adopting a culture of innovation will need to look at structural reform as one of the key transformations. For some, the idea of a business structure which does not rely on signatures and counter signatures may be hard to accept. Certainly, when innovation leader Zappos announced that it was doing away with job titles and leaders the publicity which it received was mixed.
Whether you go as far as companies such as Zappos is a matter for each individual business. But the hard truth is that you cannot have a future-fit and collaborative organisation if you insist on retaining multiple layers of pointless controls. Quite simply, Next Generation Organisations require a Next Generation business structure if they are to deliver game-changing innovative solutions which resonate with customers.